If Dot Vegas Inc has its way, Latvia’s top-level .lv domain will soon find itself in a bit of competition when it comes to representing Las Vegas on the Internet.
Founded by veterans of eNIC Corporation, the registry for the .cc top-level domain, the startup and .vegas proponent began preparations for an application to ICANN (the organization that governs Internet domain names) several years ago, but initial plans were hindered by delays and a competing proposal.
Greenspun Corp., operator of lasvegas.com and vegas.com, supported by Clark County, insisted that it should be the ones to herald the new TLD, arguing that the company was in a stronger position and could provide better terms (including a revenue agreement with the county), but Mayor Oscar Goodman and the City of Las Vegas balked, instead choosing to sign with newcomer Dot Vegas Inc.
The Dot Vegas proposal also garnered support from the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, the City of North Las Vegas and the Nevada Development Authority.
With the endorsement of the city in hand (an ICANN requirement), Dot Vegas submitted its application. Last month, after internal deliberation and a reclassification from a protected geographic TLD to a generic TLD (meaning anyone worldwide can register a domain with the .vegas extension), it was announced that the .vegas application had passed ICANN’s initial evaluation, and, if all goes as planned, the new TLD will be live next year.
I spoke with Dustin Trevino, CFO of Dot Vegas Inc, about the history of the project and the company’s plans for the new TLD.
One of the areas we thought would be popular in the new TLD program would be geographic/city names. Las Vegas has two names. To those that live here, it is Las Vegas. To those that visit, it is known as Vegas. Our rational was simple, if 40 million annual visitors and hundreds of millions more around the world know it as Vegas, who were we to argue? The city made it clear that they wanted the .vegas TLD to be a worldwide TLD, so choosing .vegas over .lasvegas was easy.
Plus, .vegas has fewer characters.
The Dot Vegas Inc. relationship with the city goes back to 2008-2009. Has it been a continuous effort to establish the TLD since then, or did the project stall and then recently revive?
The TLD application program was supposed to start in 2009, but delays within ICANN prevented that from happening. During this time we continued to work toward preparing and submitting our application, and at no time did we go dark. While it has taken us longer than anticipated to get to the submission stage, we have kept ourselves busy both operationally and politically.
What are the terms of the revenue share between the city and the company?
The city receives 10 percent of the gross revenue, or 75 cents per domain name, whichever is greater.
Will the City of Las Vegas and/or Dot Vegas gain possession of any particular .vegas domain names once the new TLD is live?
As part of the agreement with the city, Dot Vegas Inc will withhold certain domain names that are in the interest of the city to protect, names such as mayor.vegas and citycouncil.vegas, etc.
How will the initial land rush for popular domain names be handled at launch? Will it be first come first served, or are there plans for divvying out the more enticing names?
Since we can’t directly sell domains to end-users, the land rush will be handled by registrars/resellers like Godaddy, Network Solutions and others. However, there will be an auction component for the more desirable names. This will be handled by specialized companies such as pool.com and/or Sedo.
Are other entities (such as the county, etc) involved in the program, or is it strictly between the City of Las Vegas and Dot Vegas?
In terms of a revenue share, it’s only the city. However, we have talked to the Chamber of Commerce and plan on others participating in some way.
Has per-domain pricing been announced, and if not, is there an estimated range that it may fall into?
With 1,400 new top-level domains coming out over the next few years, the pricing landscape could change dramatically. Today, we are researching pricing options. Of course, to get an accurate read on pricing we need to talk to resellers as well as end users, so this is taking us a little longer than we had expected. Internally we have discussed everything from $9.95 to $99.95 per year for an average domain name, though nothing has been agreed upon.
Yet don’t forget that we expect many of the premium names to go for seven figures. Poker.vegas comes to mind, as well as hotel(s).vegas, and there will be many more domain names that command five and six figure prices. These are scarce commodities and whoever owns them will control Internet traffic in a way that no one else can.
CHRIS AINSWORTH is a Las Vegas native and a tech dilettante. Find him on Twitter (@driph) or at driph.com.